Palestinian groups have until now generally fired three versions of Qassams, improvised steel rockets filled with explosives and fuel. They can travel between one and five miles. Qassam-3’s travel the farthest and are the largest, at about four feet in length. The rockets lack a guidance system and are launched from Gaza towns by terrorists who reportedly use the rocket’s trajectory and known travel distance to aim at Jewish neighborhoods near the Gaza border. About 20 percent of Qassams do not explode upon impact.
The imported missiles, Katyushas, are better guided, travel farther and cause more damage because they have a warhead of up to 20 kilograms, roughly the weight of a cannon shell from one of Israel’s Merkava tanks.
Hamas has fired at least 5,500 rockets since seizing Gaza in 2007
It’s not “too small” problem. It’s wrong-tool-for-that-task problem. Patriot is designed as costly, sophisticated air defense system launching Mach5, 5 meter long, millions-of-dollar missiles. Hamas “missiles” are mostly hand-made Quassam rockets, 2 meter long, with twenty kg of payload, and costing some hundred dollars and a bottle of moonshine each. Even if Patriot were capable of intercepting them, it’s kinda like using anti-tank rocket launcher for destroying some militant on bicycle.
ETA: By “Katyusha” you probably think Grad artillery rockets. They are unguided, but more accurate than Quassam. Not larger than Quassam-3 though.
That is inaccurate. The Patriot system was designed to kill aircraft. It does that better than any other system in the world except for our Aegis system (which sometimes uses the pac-3 missile anyway).
The mission to kill ballistic missiles was a new one for the Patriot. The pac-2 missiles were almost untested against real ballistic missile threats, and not against missiles as large as scuds. There aren’t really any portable and highly effective ABM missile systems to compare patriot against anyway.
The modern pac-3 missiles are far more effective against ballistic missiles in tests so far by multiple countries.
Calling the patriot system a piece of shit is akin to calling the A-10 a failure because loading them with sidewinders and having them intercept mig-29s isn’t incredibly effective. But when they are all you have, it’s worth a try.
Also, I’ve read somewhere that the Scuds used in the first Gulf War were so old and badly rusted that they would break into several pieces upon descent. That made interception extremely difficult.
Eventually Patriot crews found that the pieces containing the warheads would follow a more stable trajectory and manually aimed at those pieces only. This practice somewhat increased the interception success rate.
Ballistic missiles travel in a ballistic arc (mostly). Unless you turn the missile into really small pieces, a missile in terminal phase is going to come down in the same general area as the target. “Populated areas” aren’t point targets. This, combined with the difficulty of fully neutralizing a warhead, makes ABM duties very tough.
RE: guidance – the missile isn’t in powered flight the whole way, but it can still have terminal guidance, just like laser guided bombs. If it didn’t, small vagaries in air resistance or wind would make the missile a lot less accurate.
I pretty sure the IDF has developed a laser-based missile defense system possibly capable of tracking and destroying rockets. The system has not been deployed due to a combination of factors - toxic waste being one problem (chemical laser), debris showers being another (the difference between an exploding rocket and a falling one is not always that great).
And given the current ease of deployment of the rockets, any defense system can be overwhelmed by sufficient multiple launches.
And while the current British naval point defense missile system can hit “a cricket ball travelling at mach 4” (quoted by a current naval weapons rating, a family friend who was visiting for christmas, and which sounds more like a marketing quote than a technical specification to me), the cost per launch would be so excessive that a few days defense would eat up the entire IDF budget without hitting the source.